Private Eyes

Daryl Hall & John Oates

RCA, 1981

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Even though Daryl Hall and John Oates were the most commercially successful duo of the 80s, it always seemed as though Hall got most of the credit and recognition. He even became a solo artist at one point, leaving poor Oates in a temporary state of limbo and obscurity. It wouldn’t be until 2002 when John put out a solo album of his own, the dismal Phunk Shui, but by then it was too late. Both Daryl Hall and John Oates had already been put out to pasture.

Sadly, Oates has been overlooked even in his own duo. On Private Eyes, he has two shining solo moments. First off, there’s “Mano A Mano,” an obvious nod to his Latin roots. He may have not had the singing chops that Hall had, but his songs had just as much character and charm. Material like “Friday Let Me Down” may have been designed as filler, though I have always maintained that Oates’ songs deserved a better fate. I think it would be nice to see a compilation of all of his vocal contributions, but that’s probably asking too much. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The title track is a slice of pure pop heaven and is precisely what 1981 was intended to sound like. “Private Eyes (one clap), They’re watching you (two claps)…” You couldn’t ask for a bigger hook than that. Other memorable Top Ten tunes include the funkiest single ever produced by a pair of white dudes, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” and “Did It In A Minute,” a synth-pop trifle that is in the same league as “You Make My Dreams” and “Family Man.” And, though it didn’t quite get as high up the charts as the others, “Your Imagination” is just as solid. Another great tune is the B-side “Tell Me What You Want.”  The song’s slightly off-kilter feel makes it one of the more adventurous Hall & Oates numbers.

There are a couple of clunkers on Private Eyes, however, and we all know even the best albums tend to have at least one. With its annoying plunking sound of an electric piano, “Head Above Water” sounds like a rejected track by Survivor. As for “Unguarded Minute,” we’ve heard far too many songs like it from Hall & Oates before.

After coming back strong with 1984’s Big Bam Boom, Hall & Oates unwisely switched labels while still at the top of their game. The move would prove disastrous, as all of their subsequent albums flopped with a resounding thud. But when they were hot, they were really hot. They fit the times perfectly and theirs is the kind of success that could never be matched or repeated…not even by them.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.